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Spotlight on Basic Science

ICTP mission on display at World Science Forum 2019

ICTP Director Atish Dabholkar (second from left) at the World Science Forum with fellow session speakers (from left) Sekazi Mtingwa, Sanja Damjanovic, Herwig Schopper, Her Royal Highness Sumaya bint El Hassan, and session moderator Michele Zema
ICTP Director Atish Dabholkar (second from left) at the World Science Forum with fellow session speakers (from left) Sekazi Mtingwa, Sanja Damjanovic, Herwig Schopper, Her Royal Highness Sumaya bint El Hassan, and session moderator Michele Zema

25/11/2019

"Science is a shared language that transcends national boundaries and naturally provides a common platform for dialogue." This was a key message presented by ICTP Director Atish Dabholkar during the 2019 World Science Forum, held from 20 to 23 November in Budapest, Hungary. This year's meeting attracted more than 1100 researchers, policy and decision makers from 120 countries who gathered to present and answer pressing ethical issues of scientific research.

Dabholkar made the statement as an invited speaker for a session on "Basic Sciences Infrastructure for Ethical and Responsible Collaborative Development". For more than 50 years, ICTP has reached across geographical, racial, economic and gender barriers to ensure that its scientific capacity building reaches the broadest audience possible, especially scientists in the most disadvantaged countries. In his talk, Dabholkar highlighted some of the achievements of this unique mission, including ICTP's new partner institutes in Brazil, China, Mexico and Rwanda, and its expanded research directions in quantitative life sciences and renewable energies.

"Science is a unique human enterprise that is naturally global and democratic with high community standards of integrity; it reflects a fundamental human need to understand how the universe works," said Dabholkar. He stressed the value of creating a shared understanding with policy makers and the general public about the importance of the basic sciences in contributing to technology and innovation. "One cannot have quantum technologies without quantum mechanics, or artificial intelligence without a good base of people trained in basic physics and mathematics," he explained, adding, "Ignoring basic sciences is short-sighted and disastrous in the long run."

Dabholkar shared the session stage with other notable science dignitaries including Her Royal Highness Sumaya bint El Hassan, President, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan; Herwig Schopper, Former Director General, CERN; Sekazi Mtingwa, Chair of Executive Committee, Lightsources for Africa, the Americas, Asia and Middle East Project; and Sanja Damjanovic, Minister of Science, Government of Montenegro.

The World Science Forum is organized biannually by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as an international series of conferences on global science policy. The next forum is set to take place in 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa.

 

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